Persona Digital

Music Studio Technology

Persona Studio


Percussion Instruments

Percussion means to tap or hit. Sticks can hit almost any object to make sounds. Hollow objects make louder sounds. Skin covered logs, wooden or metal cylinders can be hit with fingers or sticks to make loud sounds. Rhythm is about marking time with sounds. Meaningful rhythm pulses and informs about meter and passage of time without becoming noise.

You can imagine percussion beginning with hand clapping, food stomping and sticks hitting hollow objects. When I attended kindergarten a few years ago, the highlight of the day was the percussion band; we had sticks, triangles, tambourines, a cow bell but only one small drum that had a metal membrane rather than a stretched skin. Although the drum was disappointing I always wanted to play it. Since then I learned to play a variety of drums, including snare, toms, bongos, congas and tympanis. My favorite drum was a home made 4-foot conga drum with a deer skin stretched and tacked in place. The deerskin conga was capable of producing a variety of tones and with sustained drumming would develop a deep underlining beat frequency that was hypnotic.

The Drum Kit was a recent invention appearing in the 1930's in dance bands. The drummer with his kit became a feature of jazz, swing and later appeared in every popular genre. The modern drummer with a kit sits surrounded by a number of drums, cymbals and other objects that he hits with sticks, sometimes in a frenzy of motion that can produce loud noise.

In my arrangements, I avoid crash cymbals and sometimes I leave out the kit drummer with a good result in the final mix. In a well constructed arrangement, compelling rhythms are achieved by bass, keyboards and guitar.

I have reservations about the drum kit and prefer more discrete percussion that involves several players who play drums with their hands and use interesting sounds produced by gongs, bells, shakers, wood blocks.

Tuned percussion instruments are popular worldwide - the most common being a set of hardwood bars of different pitches played with a mallet in each hand. I often include marimba and kalimbas in my arrangements. The vibraphone is a standard instrument in the P2500 Band, playing rhythm parts and solo improvisations.

String instruments have often serve in rhythmic roles which can be combined with or quite separate from their melodic and harmonic properties. The piano can be described as a percussion instrument. The keyboard is attached to felt covered hammers that hit tuned strings. The harpsichord employees mechanical devices to pluck tuned strings just as harpists continue to play their strings. Violinists also pluck strings to produce rhythmic pizzicato effects.


  • Topics presented at Persona Digital Studio are from the book,
    The Sound of Music
    by Stephen Gislason.
    Click the Download button to order the eBook 

  • Persona Mandala

    Persona Digital Studio is located on the Sunshine Coast, Sechelt, British Columbia, Canada.

    Persona Music Recordings: Our Music Catalogue includes recorded performances under the names P2500 Band, Em4U, and the Persona Classical Consort. Some music online is offered to illustrate music history, advance music education and appreciation. The recordings presented online demonstrate Persona Studio's arranging, recording and mastering techniques. All the recordings are completed in house by Stephen Gislason.

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